The History of The Warren Hayes

The Warren Hayes is a magnificent 19th Century Country House set in 22 acres of Kentish countryside complete with quiet gardens and wooded areas. Predominantly a member’s club for the Metropolitan Police Service and their families the venue is also available for non-members to hire for weddings and events. This beautiful building has been in situ for almost 150 years and is steeped in history. If you’d like to know more then read on….

Warren House

Originally known as “Warren House” The Warren Hayes was built in 1882 by Walter Maximillian de Zoete, a Dutch banker. Interestingly, this was the same year that The Hayes and West Wickham Railway was opened. Trains ran to Elmers End where passengers changed for a direct train to London.

The original name of the building now known as The Warren Hayes was derived from the wooded valley on the west side of the house. It was always known locally as “The Warren” because it was overrun with rabbits. Locals would bring ferrets and polecats to Warren House to catch the rabbits (hence the name of the footpath – Polecat Alley – which runs from the back entrance on the north side of the club grounds in Holland Way to Croydon Road in Coney Hall).

Walter Maximilian de Zoete

The de Zoete family were originally from Holland and settled in the UK as merchants and later stockbrokers. Walter Maximilian leased six acres of land for 99 years at £60 per annum from Dame Julia Maria Farnaby Lennard, the wife of Colonel Sir John Farnaby, a substantial landowner in the area. On this land, Walter Maximillian built the Warren and its lodge. Walter had an interest in antique furniture, portraits and other works of art. He was noted for his conservatism and dislike of change and so he commissioned the house to be built to his design in a Flemish style. Particularly notable are the stepped gables, a style which is unusual in the UK.

Walter was later to purchase the historic Layer Marney Towers near Colchester in Essex. This red brick Tudor mansion with lavish terracotta and stucco and decorative detailing derived from Italy, had fallen into disrepair until Walter restored and modernised the building and its adjoining church,  in 1901.

1885 – 1909

In 1885, the leasehold was assigned to Martin R Smith, who increased the site to the current twenty two acres and, over the next decade, erected an additional wing, a billiard room (now The Hayes Room), two cottages, a summer house and a number of glass houses.

1909 – 1916

On 9th June 1909 this “handsome modern mansion” became the property of a wealthy businessman and politician, Sir Robert Laidlaw M.P. At the outbreak of the First World War, in 1914, Robert offered The Warren Hayes to the British Red Cross for use as a convalescent hospital for the military. It was one of three private houses in the area used for this purpose (the other two were Coney Hill and Hayes Grove). 

The Warren Auxiliary Hospital opened on 14th October 1914 – the day after the Kent/82 Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D) had been mobilised – and offered 55 beds for enlisted servicemen. The nursing staff consisted of a Matron and two Sisters, with members of the Kent/82 V.A.D. undertaking nursing and general duties with the help of local residents. The first patients arrived from Belgian on the opening day.

Sir Robert contributed £25 a week towards the running costs, as well as the use of five servants.  The Hospital was also allowed to use produce from the kitchen gardens. When he died in November 1915, The Warren was sold to Mr Edwin Mumford Preston of Monks Orchard, West Wickham, for £19,500.

The Warren Hayes sheltered 630 patients during its time as an auxiliary hospital and closed as a hospital on 28th May 1916 having sheltered and treated over 630 servicemen.

1934 – Present day

In 1934 The Warren Hayes was acquired for the Metropolitan police to be used as a Sports Club (the fourth of four) serving no. 4 district and covering the south side of the Thames. Police Officers and employees of The Warren Hayes do not need to pay for their membership as initiated by Lord Trenchard many years ago and can enjoy a life-long membership and full use of the venue and its grounds.

On 29th June 1973, the venue became Grade II listed and in recent years, the Conservatory was added along with the free-standing Hobbit building. In 1988 The Coney Suite was added and can host up to 230 guests for a sit-down meal and more than 300 guests for a party. The Coney Suite is a one of several locations at The Warren Hayes that are licensed for Civil ceremonies and partnerships.

The Warren construction The Coney Suite

The grounds have hosted a wide range of sporting events including – for a short time – Crazy Golf in what is now the Rose Garden, adjacent to The Coney Suite. The playing fields continue to host a wide range of community sports including football, cricket and lawn bowls and in the summer of 2021 The Warren Hayes became the home ground for both training and matches for The Warren Juniors Football Club.

We pride ourselves on being an integral part of the local community. In 2021, the venue became the regular location for Gingham Goose Craft Markets and this year on Sunday 12th June 2022, we are proud to be hosting Hayes Village Fayre organised by Hayes (Kent) Village Association.

Today The Warren Hayes continues to be a member’s club for serving and retired metropolitan police officers and their families.

Our stunning venue is also available for non-members to hire for weddings and receptions and other special events.

The Warren Wedding Checklist 2024